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Dreamboats and Petticoats - Music That Lives Forever. The Embassy Theatre Skegness, 01 May 2022.

Updated: Apr 8, 2023

Dreamboats and Petticoats – Music That Lives Forever

Marty Wilde, Eden Kane, Mark Wynter, Nancy Ann Lee

The Embassy Centre

01 May 2022

Before I start, I should clear up any confusion over this show’s title. It is not Bill Kenwright’s ever-popular jukebox musical by Marks and Gran. This evening was purely a live concert featuring three of Britain’s earliest teen idols and starring the Daddy of them all – Marty Wilde – still rocking it up at eighty-three years of age and looking very good on it.

The show opened with Marty coming on to rapturous applause from his faithful audience who were treated to Born to Rock n Roll, followed by Marty’s hit Endless Sleep and the pace picked up as he performed Chuck Berry’s Sweet Little Sixteen. He then took the chance to talk to the audience, gently mocking his 50’s contemporary, Cliff Richard.

He then introduced a little Northern firebrand in Nancy Ann Lee, who took to the stage and belted out some classic hits from the fifties and sixties. The highlight for me was her blistering duet with Marty to Kirsty MacColl’s There’s A Guy Works Down the Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis. As a solo artiste, Nancy Ann knows how to work the audience and led them through hits from Brenda Lee and The Ronnettes all the while being backed by Marty’s long-time band The Wildcats. I also enjoyed her rendition of I Only Wanna Be With You, made famous by Dusty Springfield in 1964.

Following a set from Nancy Ann, pre-Beatles teen idol Eden Kane took to the stage. Kane who was born Richard Sarstedt is a mere spring chicken at 82 (compared to Marty Wilde’s 83) and achieved fame as a singer, producer and actor even featuring in the Star Trek franchise across various series. Kane performed a series of his hits including Well I Ask You, Get Lost and Boys Cry along with his brother Peter Sarstedt’s greatest hit, Where Do You Go To My Lovely? He still maintains a warm stage presence with impressive vocal command and managed to even show us pictures of his grandchildren that he carries everywhere. His age was only belied when he dropped one of the photos and he declined to bend down to retrieve the photo, but we can all identify with that. The affection which Marty Wilde and Eden Kane display for each other is admirable and has lasted for many decades in an industry that is often dog-eat-dog. It was refreshing to see.

The other star of this touring review is singer, actor and heart throb Mark Wynter, who enjoyed four top twenty singles in the 1960s. His CV is equally impressive with numerous stage and film roles. He too, is an all-round entertainer who has stood the test of time. Despite some terrible “Dad jokes” during his set, the richness and warmth of Wynter’s vocal is still clear and he also covered some well-known hits of days gone by. In his bright red suit, he strode across the stage with ease and reminded us (if his contemporaries hadn’t already done so) that if you’re good enough you can enjoy a lengthy career. that in Wynter’s case spans 62 years as a performer. He paid tribute to the headmaster that inspired him to take up singing at a very young age, and how it was predicted that he might enjoy a two-year career in showbusiness back in the day. His opening of The Monkees’ I’m A Believer reminded the audience that this famous ballad singer was able to rock with the best of them, The warmest reception though was for his hit Venus in Blue Jeans. He remains a consummate performer.

The star of the show though, is undoubtedly Marty Wilde, who was born with the slightly less rock n roll name of Reg Smith. Better known to a certain generation as the father of eighties pop legend Kim Wilde (who I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing in 1982). Wilde is one of Britain’s earliest rock idols, alongside Tommy Steele and Cliff Richard. He had a series of hits, covering American artists’ songs for a British audience, peppered with some memorable originals too, and enjoyed wide exposure through the emerging medium of television as he was beamed into homes across the UK via shows such as Oh Boy! And 6-5 Special.

Marty Wilde remains a towering figure and still has an amazing voice that sounds fresh and vital, but perhaps more controlled than in his early days. Wilde shared stories of his days touring in the fifties with legends such as Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran who was tragically killed whilst on a tour of the UK at the age of just 21. Cochran was a genius in the making, full of potential as he experimented with the form and methods of production. Had he lived, there is no doubt he would have become an even greater legendary songwriter, musician and producer but to Marty Wilde he was a friend and he paid tribute in a song which he has written that features on his latest album, which is simply entitled Eddie. This was not the only deeply moving tribute from Wilde who has sadly seen too many of his contemporaries pass away reminding him, and us, of our own mortality. He performed a beautiful rendition of Billy Fury’s Halfway to Paradise, saying that this could be the last time they tour like this, and if it is he wanted to pay tribute to those we have lost. He did so magnificently and I for one, will remember the performance for a long time to come.

One line sung by Wilde in his tribute to Cochran is “Rock n Roll needed heroes”. Well, Marty Wilde deserves to be counted as one of them too. Never achieving the global success or recognition of the American rockers, he nevertheless has maintained a presence that endures and can still fill an auditorium.

His final set saw him really rock out. Hits like Bad Boy, Jezebel and Elvis classics like Little Sister and His Latest Flame were terrific, and his version of Roll Over Beethoven got the audience rocking too. His ever-loyal backing band, The Wildcats provided confident backing. Like a stick of Skegness rock, if you cut Wilde open the words rock 'n' roll run right through him. If this is Marty’s final tour of this kind, I wish him well and thank him for a contribution to the industry that has lasted through seven decades. I hope he remains well and continues to rock out, doing what he loves. His audience loves it too.

Andy Evans 02/05/2022

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